First Grand Slam final starts

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
This Monday the first Grand Slam Final was officially opened and Tuesday, 17:00 CET the first round will be played in a glass cube at the Plaza Nueva in Bilbao, Spain. ChessVibes is in Bilbao to bring on-the-spot video coverage. Pairings round one: Anand - Ivanchuk, Radjabov - Topalov, Aronian - Carlsen.

For the first time, Bilbao will hold its "Grand Slam Chess Final Masters", from September 2 to 13, which due to the level of participants and prize fund (?¢‚Äö¬¨400,000) will become one of the most important tournaments in chess history.

Of the six players, three have qualified by winning one of the current three Grand Slam tournaments: Aronian (Corus/Wijk aan Zee), Anand (Morelia/Linares) and Ivanchuk (M-Tel Masters/Sofia). Carlsen and Topalov are "wild cards" while Radjabov was the best scoring player in the three Grand Slam events who stepped in for the qualifier of a fourth Grand Slam in Mexico that was never held.

In different ways, the Grand Slam Final will be special. To start with, for the first time ever the games will actually take place in the street - the Plaza Nueva, to be specific. That's right in the centre of Bilbao's Old Town. This is possible because of the use of a huge, soundproofed and air-conditioned glazed case. It's placed under a marquee which will also accommodate "The Agora" for analysis and comments by Susan Polgar (during the first week) and Boris Spassky (during the second week).

Google Map: Plaza Nueva, Bilbao

But still this is not all yet. The organizers came up with another special feature:

[...] the Final Masters is going to apply the football scoring system, earning three points per game won and one point per draw [...].

This novelty was criticised before at ChessVibes so we won't repeat that and, well, let's see how it works out this time.

On to the tournament itself. At the short and simple Opening Ceremony, held this Monday at 11:30 local time, the players had to pick a football which was linked to their pairing number. The world's number one (which could actually change during this tournament!) also picked number one, and then Anand saw Ivanchuk picking number six, which means they play each other already in the first round.

Pairings round 1 (including pairing numbers - not yet official) Anand (1) - Ivanchuk (6) Radjabov (2) - Topalov (5) Aronian (3) - Carlsen (4)

Photo ?Ǭ© Susan Polgar

Your editor-in-chief has arrived in Bilbao on Monday afternoon and I will be providing video coverage throughout the tournament. On this first day I strolled a bit through the (pretty nice) city and, yes, already paid the obligatory visit to the Guggenheim Museum. After that I joined the players and organizers for an "inspection" of the very special venue.

What struck almost all of us, was the state that the cube was in. It appears that they need at least a week more to finish everything. The site was still very much "under construction", 24 hours before the first round...

Below you'll find a small photo impression of "Day 1".

walking_bridge Walking bridge over the Nervi?ɬ?n river

orilla The very colourful Orilla bar located along the river

guggenheim_entrance Entrance of the Guggenheim

guggenheim_bridge The museum from the side...

guggenheim ...and from another viewpoint

tent The glass case with the marquee protecting the players from an overdose of light

inspection Levon Aronian, Viswanathan and his wife Aruna Anand and Teimour Radjabov within the "Bilbao Aquarium" for the first time (and did you spot Vassily Ivanchuk outside?)

inspection2 Organizer Juan Carlos Fernandez, Veselin Topalov and Magnus Carlsen

aronian Levon Aronian recognizing some similarities with the venue of the M-Tel Masters

magnus_henrik Magnus and Henrik Carlsen having their own thoughts about the cube

susan Commentator Susan Polgar has already arrived as well


Previous reports on the Grand Slam:
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